Education and Love

“What is education for? And more specifically, what is at stake in a distinctly Christian education? What does the qualifier Christian mean when appended to education? It is usually understood that education is about ideas and information (though it is also too often routinely reduced to credentialing for a career and viewed as a ticket to a job). And so distinctively Christian education is understood to be about Christian ideas–which usually requires a defense of the importance of “the life of the mind.” On this account, the goal of a Christian education is the development of a Christian perspective, or more commonly now, a Christian worldview, which is taken to be a system of Christian beliefs, ideas, and doctrines.

But what if this line of thinking gets off on the wrong foot? What if education … is not primarily about the absorption of ideas and information, but about the formation of hearts and desires? What if we began by appreciating how education not only gets into our head but also (and more fundamentally) grabs us by the gut? What if education was primarily concerned with shaping our hopes and passions – our visions of ‘the good life’ – and not merely about the dissemination of data and information as inputs to our thinking? What if the primary work of education was the transforming of our imagination rather than the saturation of our intellect? …

What if education wasn’t first and foremost about what we know, but about what we love?”

James K.A. Smith

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